Film Reviews


By • Dec 30th, 2011 •

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Travelling shots down empty hallways. Strong, saturated color design. A precise, functional sound mix and a full-bodied, supportive score. All these technical virtues power up an elusive story about vulnerable people at the mercy of a haunted school where, decades before, multiple murders might have been committed. It’s the indie answer to Kubrick’s THE SHINING, beautifully shot, creepy and mysterious.

Director Wes Tomasz Ciesla brings a decidedly Eastern European sensibility to the story. It’s no accident that, late in the film, the principal is seen at home reading Kafka’s ‘The Castle.’ And when he’s not reading that, he’s playing video games…anything to keep from answering his cell phone and coming to a student’s aid.

The student in peril is Julia, played by Kristen Brancaccio. Though she comes from an even more dysfunctional family then teen friend Ivan Perez, she seems more impervious to the evil aura the school puts out. Ms. Brancaccio begins the film as a plain Jane, but ironically grows steadily more attractive and voluptuous as her fate draws nearer.

Dennis Brito, as fanatical teacher Octavio Zenidro, isolates himself in the near-empty school for the Summer to write what he passionately insists is an important book about history. Within days of his self-interment in the gymnasium of the huge educational edifice, he is hallucinating that a German teacher (John Dean – delivering an excellent and chilling performance) is inviting him to understand that establishing the ‘ideal’ would, as a matter of course, give way to racist behavior, something Zenidro finds that he could embrace.

In the middle ground, but drifting swiftly in Zenidro’s direction, is school nerd ‘Sander’ Dessler, played by Ivan Perez. He and Julia have access to the school for the Summer to earn a little dough cataloguing books. Sander has Julia’s friendship, but when friendship turns to infatuation and the girl gently rejects him, Sander heads over to the dark side. Julia ends up alone and in danger, but is slow to realize what’s happening.

The foreboding figure of a black janitor lurks around the hallways, and his big scene, commiserating with Zenidro during the Summer’s sixth week, is one of the stronger SHINING connections, as is the intense amount of energy the obsessed teacher devotes to writing his treatise which, when revealed, is both less, and more, than what we’ve been expecting.

The gliding camera moves and seductive color design pull you into the story, even if Ciesla and screenwriter Rivka Rappoport, like Kafka, never deign to let you fully understand the what’s and the why’s of the narrative.

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One Response »

  1. One of the worst movies I have ever see 1.5 hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

    I loved the shining and the remake.

    This was awful. I don’t which was worse, the acting or the screenplay by Rivka Rappopprt.

    All that i can possiby say is “job not well done”

    I just hope that some day in the future that I’ll be able to forget I ever saw this movie.

    I will say that the two student ghosts did a great job, and they were very good looking.

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